Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. PF 1.2 Children as a Percentage of the Total Population

01/01/2000

Though children represent a smaller proportion of the population today than they did in 1960, they are still a substantial segment of the U.S. population and will remain so in the coming decades. In 1999, children under age 18 made up 26 percent of the population, down from 36 percent in 1960 at the end of the baby boom.

Projections by the U.S. Bureau of the Census predict that this proportion will drop further—to 24 percent—by the year 2010 and will remain at that level through 2020.

In contrast, the proportion of the population ages 65 and older has increased from 8 percent in 1950 to 13 percent in 1999. That percentage is projected to increase to 17 percent by the year 2020.

Together, children and senior citizens make up the “dependent population” that is, those persons considered economically inactive because of their age. Children’s share of the dependent population fell from 79 percent in 1960 to 67 percent in 1990, and has remained unchanged since then. That percentage is projected to continue to decline to 59 percent by the year 2020.

Table PF 1.2 Persons in selected age groups as a percentage of the total U.S. population and children under age 18 as a percentage of the dependent population: Selected years, 1950-1999 and projected, 2000-2020

  Projected
  1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 1999 2000 2010 2020
Percent of total

Ages 0-17

31 36 34 28 26 26 26 24 24

Ages 18-64

61 55 56 61 62 62 62 63 60

Ages 65+

8 9 10 11 13 13 13 13 17
Percent of dependent populationa

Ages 0-17

79 79 78 71 67 67 67 64 59

a The dependent population includes all persons ages 17 and under, and 65 and older.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-25, no. 311, no. 519, no. 917, no. 1130 (Table 2 in each); and unpublished data, U.S. Bureau of the Census


Figure PF 1.2 Children under age 18 and adults ages 65 and over as a percentage of the U.S. population: 1950- 1999, and projected, 2000-2020

Figure PF 1.2 Children under age 18 and adults ages 65 and over as a percentage of the U.S. population: 1950- 1999, and projected, 2000-2020

Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-25, no. 311, no. 519, no. 917, no. 1130 (Table 2 in each); and unpublished data, U.S. Bureau of the Census.

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